LifeWay suspends sale of Driscoll books

NASHVILLE (BP) -- LifeWay Christian Resources has suspended the sale of books by Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll to monitor issues surrounding his ministry.

"LifeWay stores and LifeWay.com have suspended the sale of Mark Driscoll's books while we assess developments regarding his ministry," said Marty King, LifeWay's director of communications. "When the decision was made to suspend sales, the stores were only carrying one of his books, his latest one, 'A Call to Resurgence.'"

Driscoll, founder of the Acts 29 church planting network, and the Mars Hill Church he leads were removed from the Acts 29 church planting network's membership in early August. The church's board of advisors and accountability subsequently reacted that it was not contacted by Acts 29 prior to the removal. The board added that "the attitudes and behaviors attributed to" Driscoll in charges against him "are not a part and have not been a part of Mark's life for some time now."

In announcing its decision, the Acts 29 board said in an Aug. 8 statement, "It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network."

Among the charges leveled against Driscoll in recent months are plagiarizing in "A Call to Resurgence," paying a marketing company more than $200,000 to help elevate his book "Real Marriage" to the New York Times bestseller list and using vulgar language on an Internet forum more than a decade ago in response to critics.

Driscoll apologized Aug. 1 for the vulgarity in forum posts, writing in a letter provided to Christianity Today, "I am sorry for it and remain embarrassed by it." He previously apologized for the pseudonymous posts in a 2006 book.

LifeWay could make a long-term decision regarding the sale of Driscoll's books as more information becomes available regarding his actions, King said. He added that books are routinely pulled from LifeWay stores most often because of poor sales. King did not know whether LifeWay has previously stopped selling a book because of its author's behavior.

"We just know that a lot of developments, a lot of concerns" have arisen, King said. "So we're watching and monitoring and we'll see what happens."

The Mars Hill advisors and accountability board noted in its statement that "friendly fire always hurts the most," an apparent reference to Acts 29 and its president Matt Chandler.

The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, where Chandler is pastor, cooperates with the Southern Baptist Convention. Chandler is a well-known speaker at many Southern Baptist events. He assumed the presidency of Acts 29 in 2012 when Driscoll stepped down from the role.

Acts 29 counts 500 churches around the world as members. Many of them also cooperate with the SBC, though the two organizations have disagreed over issues ranging from alcohol to Calvinism to Driscoll's demeanor.

At the 2009 SBC annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., five motions directly or indirectly related to Driscoll, including one that "all SBC entities ... monitor" funds spent in "activities related to or cooperative efforts with Mark Driscoll and/or the Acts 29 organization" and submit a report in the 2010 Book of Reports. Another motion requested that SBC entities avoid "inviting event speakers" who "are known for publicly exhibiting unregenerate behavior ... such as cursing and sexual vulgarity, immorality, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol."

Mars Hill Church is not a cooperating church with the SBC.


Compiled by David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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